Northrop Grumman has successfully completed its fourth and final major design review with the US Air Force under the technology maturation and risk reduction (TMRR) phase of the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program.
The preliminary design review (PDR) is a technical assessment of the entire weapon system approach that is required to conclude the three-year TMRR effort, and inform the next phase of the GBSD program; the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase.
Greg Manuel, vice president of GBSD enterprise at Northrop Grumman, said, "Successfully completing another key milestone on time demonstrates the continued hard work and innovation from our industry team to ensure we are meeting our commitments to develop, test and validate the best GBSD design solution for the Air Force."
Northrop Grumman has successfully completed, on-time, every major design review under the TMRR contract. In addition to PDR, these milestones include the system requirements review, system functional review, and software specification review.
"We have assembled a talented nationwide team to execute on this extremely important program. If awarded the EMD contract, we are ready to deliver a safe, secure, reliable and effective nuclear deterrent capability – on schedule and on budget – to keep our nation and allies safe," Manuel added.
GBSD is a vital US Air Force program to modernise the nation’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) system.
The current US land-based ICBM force comprises 450 LGM-30 Minuteman 3 missiles located at USAF bases in Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota. Through the GBSD program, these will be replaced by some 650 missiles.
The Minuteman missile arose from development in the 1950s with first generation missiles entering service in 1962.
Significantly, Minuteman was powered by solid fuel rocket motors, a major advance on earlier liquid fuelled ICBMs that needed to be fuelled immediately before launch and were at increasing risk of loss in a surprise first strike.
Current missiles date from the 1970s and have been steadily upgraded with a range of new systems including replacement rocket motors, improved guidance and more reliable safety systems. Rather than the multiple warheads of earlier missiles, each Minuteman now lofts a single W78 or W87 warhead.
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The company's GBSD team is made up of hundreds of small, medium and large enterprises and subcontractors – spanning all facets of design, innovation and construction phases. Should the bid prove to be successful, program directors estimate that the project will provide employment to over 10,000 people across the US.
PDR completion validated that Northrop Grumman’s GBSD preliminary design is ready to enter the EMD phase having reduced technical risk through prototypes, validated schedule and cost estimates, evaluated manufacturing processes and refined requirements.
The Northrop Grumman GBSD nationwide team is comprised of hundreds of small, medium and large companies from across the defence, construction and engineering industries. This team has the capacity, capability and credentials needed to deliver on this national security priority.